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Jim Williams raises the Heineken Cup in Shannon
Cathal Noonan
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5 May 2008, 3:57 pm
The Cork based Munster players slipped quietly through Cork International Airport on Wednesday afternoon en route to England where they assembled before flying to New Zealand.
Limerick based Paul O'Connell and Alan Quinlan also used the Cork route, both having stayed on after the civic reception the previous evening.

The players were preceded to check-in by Jim Williams, his wife Megan and two children who were also London bound on the first leg of their trip home to Australia.

Meanwhile Denis Fogarty, Darragh Hurley, Donnacha Ryan, Keith Earls, Denis Hurley, Kevin Lewis and Tomas O'Leary made their way to Dublin to begin preparations for their trip to Canada where they will compete in the Churchill Cup.

They open their campaign with a game against the USA in Kingston on Wednesday June 11th followed by a tie with England Saxons at Fletcher's Fields in Toronto three days later.

Before they left both Williams and O'Connell once again paid tribute to the fans. "They've been absolutely amazing all season." said the Munster captain. " You think back to the games we played in Thomond against Llanelli and Wasps and the night in Musgrave Park against Leinster. The conditions were brutal but it didn't stop them turning up. Then you look at the crowds who travel to support us, spending a fortune. They're amazing and we are just so happy that we could pay them back for that support."

For his part Williams called them, "the best supporters in the world in any sport as far as I'm aware. It's been a privilege to have been involved and me and my family will treasure the memories of our time here."

Williams' first task of course will be to plot the downfall of players he knows so well when Australia play Ireland at the Telstra Dome on June 14th

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